First Nations set to join Alberni Clayoquot Regional District

The Huu-ay-aht and Ucluelet First Nations are set to join the ACRD on April 1.

The Alberni Clayoquot Regional District will grow by two members, bringing their total to 12, chief administrative officer Russell Dyson said.

The development was announced during Dyson’s presentation to Port Alberni city council on March 12.

The Huu-ay-aht and Ucluelet First Nations are set to join the ACRD on April 1, Dyson told city councillors. The tribes will hold one vote each in ACRD business.

The Uchucklesaht and Toquaht First Nations have the option of joining the ACRD but aren’t exercising it yet; they will have observer status at meetings.

The last Maa-nulth tribe — Kyuquot — is eligible to join the Mount Waddington Regional District.

Joining the ACRD was a provision outlined in the Maa-nulth treaty, which was signed last year.

In a later interview, Dyson said that the provincial government just adopted an order in council decreeing the move.

ACRD officials are reviewing the services they offer with the tribes as a matter of course. “Whether it’s planning, fire, water, we’ll be having further discussions depending on what’s practical with them,” Dyson said.

In January, ACRD directors met with officials from the Huu-ay-aht and Ucluelet First Nations as well as staff from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development.

The hangup that prevented the tribes joining the ACRD then revolved around a report penned by the ACRD that outlined how the tribes can be welcomed into the fold, the cost, cost recovery and potential timelines.

The province has since anted up, Dyson said. “They’ve put out a request for proposals for assistance with implementing this,” Dyson said. “We’re reviewing the proposals and should have something on the ground next week.”

The ACRD’s next meeting is on April 12 at which time Maa-nulth officials will officially be sworn in.

The additions will mean that the ACRD’s boardroom will be too small to accommodate  everyone. Solutions are being examined.

The Tsawwassen First Nation, which is part of the Metro Vancouver regional district, is the only other First Nation to have joined a regional district.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com